Competitive Enterprise Institute attorney Hans Bader has some interesting commentary on last week's Sixth Circuit ruling invalidating Michigan's voter-approved Civil Rights Initiative. A divided panel, as I reported here last week, ruled that MCI "harmed minorities" because it violated the Equal Protection clause of the US Constitution. But as Bader demonstrates, the only way to construe the appeals court's bizarre logic is to conclude that Equal Protection requires treating people UNequally. A cynic might think that the court intended to reach its result, one way or another. Hopefully, the US Supreme Court will review the case and respect the decision of Michigan's voters.
A divided three-judge panel of the 6th Federal Appeals Circuit has struck down Michigan's voter-approved constitutional amendment banning the consideration of race or sex in college admissions decisions. I haven't had the opportunity to parse the specific details of the constitutional basis on which the court reached this conclusion, only that Propostiion 2, as it was known as a ballot initiative, harms minority applicants. The next step, if there is one, will be an appeal to the full bench of the 6th circuit or to the US Supreme Court. The decision comes at a time when the California Legislature is considering a law which would re-introduce racial quotas into the admissions process there, in direct conflict with the provisions of Proposition 209. This you'll recall, was also a voter-approved initiative banning such preferences. Our California affiliate, as noted here, is vigorously opposing this seemingly back-door maneuver. Ward Connerly, a tireless opponent of racial preferences and supporter of both ballot initiatives, gets it right when says that it's becoming impossible for the people to make their own collective decisions in these matters, due to the arbitrary intervention of the courts. Let's hope that an appeal is not long in coming.
The day simply has to be coming when the issue of race in college admissions or faculty hiring generates no new litigation "diversity" policies, because everyone is finally one the same page: we all agree that this is what the law says, and this is what we'll do in shaping our institutional policies. It hasn't come yet.
This summer has been a pretty rough ride for students and faculty whose religious convictions run counter to campus PC trends concerning homosexuality. We've recently seen the summary dismissal (and subsequent reinstatement) of professor Kenneth Howell at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign. This came on the heels of a federal judge's ruling last month upholding Eastern Michigan University's right to drop a student from its counseling program because her religious beliefs prevented her from endorsing the lifestyes of gay clients. Now, a virtually identical ruling has just been handed down by a federal court in favor of Georgia's Augusta State University ( read about it here at Inside Higher Education), where a graduate student in a counseling has been given the option of swallowing her religious convictions or leaving the program. That's what both students ended up doing, since they did not want to attend Gay Pride celebrations as a means of correcting their retrograde views of homosexuality. Here again, the court ruled that the university and its program were simply acting within wholly acceptable bounds of professional standards and non-discriminatory conduct, which did not restrict any student's freedom of conscience. As I noted previously, I can't really believe that an agnostic gay counselor with reservations about Christian evangelicals would be required to attend church or Bible study sessions in hopes of altering his negative perspective. I wonder though: what happens when someone comes along who objects to these Orwellian requirements on purely clinical grounds? It's not likely, I know, but a few such people are out there, and it would be interesting to see how the PC forces that presently monopolize the "helping" professions would handle that one. They'd think of something, I'm sure.
“The list of academically and morally corrupt practices that ensue from our inability to adhere to our own standards is rather long. One of our worst offenses is that we admit, and re-admit students absolutely unqualified and absolutely incapable of achieving a college degree. Many go into debt or cause their families to go into debt into [sic] order to attempt a college degree. This is an absolutely corrupt practice and it may be criminal. If we have done this to even one student, then we are guilty of a low form of corruption."
Herewith a link to the most recent posting by the excellent legal journalist Stuart Taylor. In a book co-authored with K.C. Johnson, Taylor had chronicled in detail the enormous travesty of justice at Duke when a black stripper falsely accused white male lacrosse players of rape -- the denial of due process to the laxers was reminiscent of Jim Crow days, but with racial roles reversed. [I discuss the case and the book in an Academic Questions article entitled "Durham's Disgrace" - subscription required]. Taylor's recent posting details the continuing rise to glory of the Duke academics who had tried to "lynch" the laxers. It makes for riveting and depressing reading. Duke alums, if you haven't yet suspended your donations, now's the time.
In this week's Pope Center Clarion Call, I write about an enlightening lawsuit involving a demoted dean's allegation that his school deliberately trashed its academic standards to help retain weak students. My argument is that colleges and universities have been doing this for decades, but have usually been subtle enough not to get caught (or sued, at least). The case also highlights the need to employ what economists call "Public Choice" theory -- i.e., the assumption that public officials will generally make decisions that are in their own interest rather than for "the public good"--when we think about the actions of college officials.
See Inside Higher Ed:
Both sides in the case before the court argue that they are defending students from discrimination. "Often university officials don't like the religious groups and we see [colleges' anti-bias rules] as one more mechanism for keeping religious groups off campus," said Kim Colby, a lawyer for the Christian Legal Society, which wants the right to organize chapters at public law schools even if those law schools ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. The society excludes gay people -- and others who do not share its faith.
See also FIRE:
FIRE will be filing an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief with the Court in support of the Christian Legal Society's appeal, asking the Court to continue its longstanding protection of expressive association.
University administrators, moreover, seem to have a lot a trouble complying with the First Amendment. Let us pray that the Supreme Court will vindicate the foundational principles underlying our first freedom.
But just as the right to abortion, speech, or private education doesn’t yield a right to government funding of abortion, speech, or private education — and isn’t even violated by rules that expressly exclude abortion, certain subject matters of speech, or private education from generally available benefit programs — so the right to expressive association isn’t violated by rules that give benefits only to groups that organize themselves in a certain way. And while these conditions on funding would be unconstitutional if they discriminated based on the viewpoint of the groups’ speech, a ban on discrimination in selecting members or officers is a ban based on conduct, not on the viewpoint of the groups’ speech.
Today NAS completes its serializing of Getting Under the Skin of "Diversity" by Larry Purdy. Purdy, one of the lawyers who represented Jennifer Gratz and Barbara Grutter in the U.S. Supreme Court cases Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger, takes us inside an upside down house of racial preferences.